One of the biggest internal struggles guys have can be summed up in one question:
What’s my purpose?
I have always struggled with that question, and it is a difficult one to understand and to wrestle with. Who doesn’t want to leave a legacy? We all want to be celebrated. We all want our lives to have value and mean something to someone. These constant questions have led to questioning self-worth, self-esteem issues, anger and even depression. In a world where your worth is determined on the how much money you make, what type of car you drive, how many women you can get, or how many followers you have on Twitter, it can be extremely demoralizing for people, especially guys, because most of the time we keep it bottled up or ignore the issues.
What if we are looking at everything through the wrong lens, weighing our worth on the wrong scale? When you die, all the money you make, the cars you drive, the houses you build will all be left. You can’t take it with you. At your funeral they won’t be talking about how many women you pulled on the weekends, or how awesome your tweets were… they will talk about your impact on their lives, whether good or bad.
In August of this past year I attended the funeral of my grandfather. Watching how my family endured really put things in perspective for me. Listening to people tell stories about my grandfather and the way he changed their lives really made me evaluate what kind of impact I was having on people’s lives…what kind of man I wanted to be… my purpose, my identity.
I had always drowned my identity in sports. That was my safe haven, it was an arena I felt accepted and comfortable expressing myself in. And while it was a significant component of my life, it wasn’t who I was. I was lost. I didn’t know my identity. Slowly my identity evolved to defining myself by what people thought of me,valuing my self-worth by other people’s standards and not mine. It isn’t a healthy way to live.
Our purpose in life is something that is developed over time. Some people figure out their purpose faster than others, but your purpose cannot be determined until you find your identity. The definition of identity is “the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another.”
Are you being true to yourself?
Are you letting other people dictate your thoughts and behaviors?
No matter what you believe, at the very least believe in your own self-worth. Your self-worth is not determined by your peers, your boss, or your high school coach. Self-worth is determined by you. You are valuable to the universe, to God, and that is the biggest stamp of approval you need and will ever get.
It’s not easy to undo the thoughts you have kept in your brain for a decade or so, but it can be done. Here are a few helpful things that have helped me:
1. Read More
Since graduating from college most of my reading has been consumed with ESPN or something funny my buddies will send to the group, but there are so many books out there that can open up new light into our way of thinking and essentially change your life’s trajectory. The book I Told Me So: Self-Deception and the Christian Life helped me to be more aware of why I do things and my reasoning for doing them, and also helped me understand that I am not as good as I think I am, but I am also not as bad as I think I am. I fall somewhere in the middle, and that’s okay, God loves unconditionally despite my past and future transgressions.
2. Pray More:
The power of prayer will do more for you than you think. It’s not just sending a wish up to a magic genie in the sky, it’s a chance to talk and connect with the Creator, and when a burden is heavy, surrendering to a and letting Him carry that burden for you.
Pray about it; ask to reveal your purpose, and he will in HIS time, not OUR time. HIS timing works out a heck of a lot better than MY time. Pray for strength to endure, pray for wisdom, pray for the courage to pursue your calling.
Serving has helped me climb out of the deep pits of a lost identity and purpose. Through service, I have given myself a purpose in my life while I am in the midst of searching for the purpose of my life. Whether it’s planting trees, building homes, or volunteering at a neighborhood after school program, you can make a difference in someone’s life. The joy of unselfishly giving of your time and investing in something bigger than yourself, is undeniable. Through service I have become more content with myself. Some of my proudest and happiest moments in the last few years have been directly linked to investing my time in good people and good causes.
4. Be Mentored:
We all need people we can trust in our lives. There is nothing more comforting than having an older and wiser male role model that you can confide in. It seems scary at first for some people, but once you enter into a relationship like this and it really begins to bloom, a wave of relief will wash over you. When you are struggling in life you can have someone who has been there before to offer you guidance, and a new perspective. A good mentor will hold you accountable. It is incredible the impact they can have on your life and if you are struggling immensely with something in your life, there is no better asset.
Who do you want people to remember you for? What type of imprint do you want to have in your community? What kind of legacy do you want to leave?
Young men desperately need positive role models. While you are mentored, begin to share what you are learning with the next generation. Everyone is a role model. Whatever platform you find yourself on, someone is looking up to you, watching how you do things, aspiring to be like you, whether you want them to or not. The choice is not whether you are a role model, but what type of role model you want to be. Kids need someone who is willing to listen to and take an interest in their world. Find a place to volunteer, go coach a team, be a Big Brother, or invite the new intern at the office out to lunch. Invest your time into someone else, and you will be amazed at the impact you will have on their life, and the impact they WILL have on yours.